I know that Chutes and Ladders has had to make some serious reparations over the years. People (who enjoy counting) figured out that past iterations of the game rewarded the behaviors exhibited by boy characters on the board more than girls. I am sure we could stack a great many other racist, sexist, and ageist allegations against C&L, but for $5 at Tarjay, I was thinking this was just a really solid investment. Plus, if you lose the game pieces, you can just replace them with gummi bears, which does not appear to be the case with, say, Wii Disney Princess Enchanted Castle.
Little Man really took to C&L and we spent a good 30 minutes or so navigating the acts of service and moral falls of our two game pieces: Punk Rock Asian Girl and Toe-Head Crewcuts Boy. I was impressed that Little Man really got the concept of direct consequences for certain actions, because he kept landing on spaces where he was “just thinking” at the end of a chute. There are many ponderous faces on the playing board of C&L — I guess pre-schoolers these days are just emo, yo. We had several good chats about how one did not just land at the movies, one actually has to work to earn a living so she can pay for her movie ticket, and also for that of her son. This did not compel my 4 year-old counterpart to go get a job, so I guess I am still stuck with a high-maintenance movie buddy. Whatevs. It was good bonding time.
Then I really examined the actual crimes and punishments illustrated on the board and I have to say…the government of Chutes and Ladders Land is operating as one really wack meritocracy.
Take for example the longest chute on the board, demoting a game piece a good seven rows for the high crime of reaching for the oft-desired cookie jar.
And yet, the shattered pottery seems to be the worst outcome of precariously perching oneself to get the illicit cookie. It’s not the consequence of possibly breaking a bone or being sneaky instead of asking. We’re taking chutes to our disgrace because the totally replaceable clay pot we bought on clearance Homegoods is in humpty dumpty pieces.
Then there’s the happy-go-lucky lad who rides evil knevil on his two-wheeler, showing off sans helmet. He rides that bike down a measly little one-row chute, and lands with a busted looking eye and only a wheel for a souvenir. Hmm. I’m going to call bologna on the judge here, because if this brazen chap doesn’t have a concussion, he should really be doing some hard time. He could have caused a crash and nothing tears down pride of folly more than a long ride down a long chute.
Then, here’s a juxtaposition of chute and ladder that seems to have turned the scales of justice upside-down. Yay for baking a cake for your birthday. Yay for eating it all by yourself. Yay for child obesity! As long as you’re not spending your idle time reading. Yeegads! Down with literacy. Take that chute on down to where the reader losers go. Only, how can you follow that cake recipe if you can’t read I wonder? Ah, that Justice, no wonder she’s a blind one.
Oh, and finally we’re back with another blondie who also can’t seem to keep a steady step. She’s trying to balance too many plates at once. We once again revisit C&L’s fixation with shattering pottery because blondie rides another long chute to the punitive pit of plateware in pieces. I wish kids would just learn not to unload the dishwasher and not put dishes away, but rather just go eat some cake?